Jermaine Jenas believes that Darren Bent has never received the credit that his goalscoring record deserves and insists his former Tottenham Hotspur team-mate will head back to White Hart Lane with Aston Villa on Monday with nothing to prove.
Bent spent two years with Spurs, but struggled to handle the pressure that accompanied his £16.5m transfer fee and, in a moment that signalled a breakdown in his relationship with Harry Redknapp, was publicly ridiculed by the Tottenham manager for missing a golden opportunity against Portsmouth in January 2009. "My missus could have scored that," Redknapp famously said at the time.
Bent's departure from the club was also acrimonious, the striker clashing with Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, when his transfer to Sunderland was held up later that summer. "I am sure he will want to go to White Hart Lane and want to score," said Jenas, who is on loan at Villa and, as a result, will be unable to play against his parent club this evening.
"I wouldn't say he has something to prove [against Spurs] but everyone wants to do well when they go back to one of their old clubs. I think the way that Darren left Spurs probably wasn't the way he wanted to leave but it was the right move for him and his career. He went up to Sunderland and did well and, luckily enough, we have got him down here.
"I think the statement by Harry was probably blown up out of proportion so it was going to highlight it. At the same time, Benty did what he wanted to do and he left the club and went and played for Sunderland. And, to be fair to him, I don't think it affected him at Sunderland because he went there and started banging in the goals. Darren rates himself and knows how good he is as an individual so it is just up to him to keep doing it."
Bent has 96 Premier League goals to his name – only Wayne Rooney has scored more in the top flight across the last seven seasons – yet he seems to be constantly trying to win over the sceptics. "He has consistently scored goals wherever he has been and does he get enough credit for it? Probably not," Jenas said.
"I think he turned his career around. At one point perhaps people looked at him as a bit of a hit-and-miss type striker but he is prolific now, it's as simple as that. He is now one of the top English strikers and probably has been since his days at Charlton Athletic. No one can question his goals-to-games ratio.
"Playing for England is the top level and he's playing with and against better players with England but is still banging in the goals. Whether it is tap-ins or whatever, he seems to find the right place. Every team would love a player like that."